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Learning about the emotional lives of kangaroos, cognitive justice and environmental sustainability

Steve Garlick, Rosemary Austen

Abstract


This paper reports on research into wildlife emotion, interpretation and usefulness as a means for broad-scale learning about environmental sustainability. Part of the Australian landscape for 16 million years, the iconic kangaroo has characteristics that make them suited, as wild animals, for humans to learn about environmental integrity. A ‘new way of knowing’ about sustainability is proposed that seeks to learn directly from wildlife through their emotional states using a ‘being-for’ (Bauman 1995), relational (Derrida 2002), ethic of care (Donovan 1996, Noddings 1984, Kheel 2008). Within the context of cognitive justice we propose wildlife knowledge systems that need to be respected. We incorporate recent research on affective neuroscience in mammals (Panksepp 1998 and 2004) into our own work in rehabilitating large numbers of seriously injured kangaroos prior to their release/return to the wild (Garlick and Austen 2010). This work enables identifying and interpreting emotion markers in various environmental contexts and their consequent sustainability. Progressing from a case example of learning through a particular transformational animal encounter, to where an entire community might be similarly transformed to address sustainability questions is possible to conceptualise through the ‘ecoversity’. 


Keywords


Relational ethics; affective neuroscience; ethic of care; environmental sustainability; kangaroos; ecoversity; cognitive justice; wildlife emotion; forms of togetherness; animal knowledge system

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2014-001-garl






Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196


Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo